Medical advances in organ transplantation have transformed the prospects for people suffering from irreversible organ failure.

The challenge today is to increase the number of organ donors so that more people can benefit from transplants and to prolong the survival of transplanted organs so their recipients live as long and as healthily as possible.

Roche’s treatments are designed to support the long-term survival of transplanted organs, without compromising patients’ health and quality of life in other ways.

A Second Chance

Transplantation - a second chance

For people who suffer the failure of one or more of their organs, transplants can offer new hope.

Hearts, livers and lungs are regularly transplanted and further medical advances are leading to transplants of other organs. Thousands more have their sight restored through cornea transplants.

As more and more people can be considered for transplants, the shortage of donors becomes ever more acute. Some people who need transplants have to wait for years. Many others die before an organ becomes available.

Donated organs originate from people who have died, but the number of living people donating a kidney or a segment of their liver or lung is increasing. A third of kidney transplants now come from live donors.1

At Roche, we are acutely aware of the challenges of transplantation for the people involved: from those who are waiting for transplants and the people who live with transplanted organs to the teams of healthcare professionals who care for them. This awareness focuses our efforts as we strive to discover and develop even better diagnostic tools and therapies for transplantation

Survival of Transplants

Supporting the survival of transplants

Everyone who has had a successful organ transplant will need to be carefully monitored and to take a series of medication for the rest of their lives.

Soon after a transplant, the body’s immune reaction to an organ can show up as a change in the blood results. Roche’s monitoring products include an enzymatic creatinine test, which helps doctors monitor patients with chronic kidney disease, both before and after their transplants.

Signs of organ rejection can help doctors prescribe additional medication. Most patients are prescribed three different types of anti-rejection drugs which work together. They may also need additional medicines to prevent complications of some anti-rejection drugs and medication for high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Roche’s products include an immunosuppressant treatment, which aims to reduce the incidence of transplanted organs being rejected.

Roche also provides products for the prevention of infections that can result from transplants. The most serious of these is an infection from a virus called Cytomegalovirus (CMV). If a transplant patient develops CMV disease this can lead to rejection and possibly the loss of their transplanted organ.

Patients who continue to take all their medication and look after their general health maximise their chances of having many years of good quality life with a well functioning transplanted organ.

Definition - Organ Rejection

Understanding organ rejection

Transplantation remains a challenging area of medicine. Organs need to be kept functioning whilst being quickly transplanted from one person to another and the surgery itself is complex.

The success of transplanted organs is influenced by a number of different factors including the condition of the organ, the tissue match and the health and medical history of the recipient. 

After surgery the challenges continue, as all transplanted organs are at risk of being rejected by the recipient’s body.

Around half of kidney transplant patients experience some rejection in the first few weeks after a transplant; this usually shows up as a change in blood results and can be treated effectively. However, one in 20 of these patients may lose their kidney during that time. Most kidneys that fail in the first year do so because of rejection.2

This rejection is the result of the highly sophisticated human immune system. When an organ is transplanted into the body, it is recognised as “foreign”. The immune system springs into action to attack this foreign item – potentially leading to the failure or rejection of the transplant.

At Roche, we continue to deepen our understanding of the mechanisms of transplantation and organ rejection with the aim of fulfilling our ambition of developing even more personalised solutions for use in this field.

The Future

Looking to the future, our global development teams continue to search for answers to some of the many remaining questions in this difficult and innovative field of medicine.

The Roche Organ Transplantation Research Foundation (ROTRF) is a registered medical research charity, based in Switzerland, with a mission to advance the science of solid organ transplantation.

The foundation researches areas such as tolerance, long-term organ survival and chronic rejection with the aim of improving the care of patients undergoing transplantation.

Roche hopes that this global effort will have some impact on the transplant community in the long term - attracting new researchers into transplantation for the first time, improving facilities in which the work is carried out and even expanding the scope of transplant research itself.


  1. NHS Blood and Transplant

  2. UK National Kidney Federation

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